Due to severe overuse, authenticity seems to have lost its way.
It’s doing the rounds in the workplace, on personal blogs and in the media. Everyone wants to be authentic – although I’d question whether some even understand its meaning.
I’m not known for my love of going mainstream so I’ll often use humanness over authenticity but the essence is the same. Showing up exactly as you are – regardless of what showing up looks like for you or what anyone else thinks about it – with confidence and without compromise.
People have a desire to form genuine connections and who really has time to give to those who don’t operate from a place of integrity? We can sense people like this a mile off and I know I’m not alone in my plan to avoid them at all costs. However, I feel I should point out that this may not be intentional on their part. They may not even be aware of it and could simply be trying to hide insecurities or parts of their character that they dislike but this only results in people feeling like something is off. Rather than try and hide them, the best way to overcome insecurities is to take a courageous step into vulnerability and share your struggle. Life is challenging, struggle is human and those who can relate will support you.
If you’re a ‘what you see is what you get’ type, it’ll be your strength when it comes to building a human brand because a personal brand is a feeling, an emotion and it lives in the minds of others. If you’re always rescheduling, letting people down and out for yourself, you’ll almost certainly leave people feeling like they’re only important when you want something or when it benefits you – and we’ve probably all encountered someone like this along the way! It’s disrespectful, it can be hurtful and it is most certainly icky – and that’ll be the feeling we’re left with whenever your name crops up in conversation.
On the flip side, those who embrace doing what they say they’ll do demonstrate character and their reputation precedes them wherever they go. Putting your money where your mouth is shows that you can back up your positive and empowering words with actions that benefit yourself and others. For example, I place an extremely high value on kindness – I can be kind as often as I like and it never costs a thing. Random acts of kindness make me happy and when I’ve been on the receiving end, it has genuinely made my day – and I’ll carry some acts of kindness with me for my entire life. Kindness is powerful, it’s genuine and it will never leave people feeling icky! It’s probably worth pointing out that kindness must not be mistaken for putting others before yourself or else you’ll attract a crowd of takers – see the previous paragraph – just simply live in the moment, notice, listen and do something nice for another human being.
Putting humanness at the heart of your personal brand requires you to be conscious of your thoughts, actions and how you treat others. It requires a balanced mix of emotional intelligence, self-awareness and an open mind. Open mindedness is the antithesis of anxiety, worry and judgement. It’s remaining impartial and open to new people, thoughts and ideas along with all that they bring with them.
It doesn’t matter whether we call it authenticity or humanness, if you stay present and add kindness and an open mind to the mix, you get a high-character individual – and when it comes to building a personal brand, a human brand, strength of character will be your greatest asset.
What does matter is that your thoughts, words and actions change and influence the world around you in a more positive and impactful way. If you are cultivating your personal brand (or thinking about it) as a way to amplify your message, it’d be wise to stay away from glossy and without doubt steer clear of icky. Think of yourself as a human brand, showcase your character and publicly embrace the incredible, diverse and vulnerable qualities of being human.
In the words of Brené Brown “To be authentic, we must cultivate the courage to be imperfect — and vulnerable”
About the author
Sallee is the Founder of Brandable & Co and passionate about her work as a human brand builder – where she gets to combine experience, creativity, intuition & design thinking to craft authentic personal, professional and company brands for clients around the world. Sallee is 6’2, a writer and a speaker Having spent over 20 years navigating the world of high-level business and brand building – holding interim CEO and COO positions, heading up international projects as well as delivering brand strategy and advisory board roles to a high-profile client list – Sallee also enjoys sharing what she knows at interactive workshop days, events and retreats across the globe.